Tag Archives: California

So What Did We Learn From Tuesday’s Election?

Despite the relatively small number of electoral contests, media pundits of every shape and size are trying to come up with the elusive answer to what it means. Many of them are just blowing smoke. However, there ought to be some lessons learned by politicians of every party and ideology. Many of those lessons won’t be trumpeted by the mainstream media, who will be so busy writing President Barack Obama’s political obituary they can’t see the forest for the trees.

The President did make some mistakes for sure.

He spent a great deal of political capital on two uninspiring Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds. The Obama magic didn’t work. Young people and people of color simply didn’t turn out in Virginia or New Jersey, and both crashed to defeat. The President could have spent just a little time in New York City trying to elect Comptroller William Thompson as mayor. His little shout out of an endorsement didn’t even fool Thompson, yet he ran closer to Mayor Michael Bloomberg than anyone expected. Thompson also suffered from a lackluster campaign, but more importantly from a stunning lack of support from unions that ordinarily would back any Democratic candidate.

While the Mayor of New York City won a third term he engineered for himself, the NY-23 race in upstate New York turned out to be a Waterloo for the conservative, birther, tea party wing of the GOP. They threw endorsements around like Frisbees, falling all over each other to sing the praises of Doug Hoffman, the true conservative who vanquished Marxist Republican Dede Scozzafava, who dropped out before a vote was even cast.

And what did Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachman, Fred Thompson, and Rush Limbaugh (did I forget anybody?) get for all their hot air? They elected a Democrat, Bill Owens, the first Democrat to hold the seat in over 100 years. Watch a Democrat win, watch the right wing spin. some of them want people to believe Hoffman’s defeat was actually a victory for them. Witness the writing of Erick  Erickson of the conservative RedState.com. “This is a huge win for conservatives…the GOP now must recognize it will either lose without conservatives or will win with conservatives.” Right, okay. Next?

And finally, there was the district that media forgot, California’s 10th. Like NY-23, there was a special election because the sitting congressperson, Ellen Tauscher, took a post in the Obama Administration. Rep. Tauscher, it should be noted, was part of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party in the House. So who won her seat? Democrat John Garamendi, who couldn’t be more different. He supports the public option, but really wants to see single payer healthcare for all Americans. He also wants US troops out of Afghanistan ASAP. He beat his Republican challenger by 10 points.

So why is nobody outside of California talking about him, and what he means to the national agenda? You tell me.

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How Did Phillip Garrido Keep His Secret?

The sordid story of Phillip Garrido, convicted sex offender and alleged kidnapper and rapist, boggles the mind.

Here you have a career criminal who manages to snatch an 11 year old girl off the street and hold her for 18 years! Allegedly.

And father two children by her. Allegedly.

While his wife looked on? Allegedly. As details of Garrido’s past come to light, you’ve got to wonder if any child is safe, anywhere.

It now seems the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard was the culmination of Phillip Garrido’s long criminal career.

He and his wife managed to abduct and keep her captive while being under the “supervision” of law enforcement the whole time. His rap sheet makes you wonder how he was even walking the street in 1991.

Nancy.garrido

In 1977 he was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison for kidnapping and raping a 25 year old woman, and taking her across state lines from California to Nevada.

A Nevada court sentenced him to 5 years to life in the same case.

You would think that would be that?

50 years as well as 5 to life.

Yet Phillip Garrido was paroled on the federal beef in 1988, then sent to serve the Nevada sentence. However, he was automatically eligible for parole because of the federal time he served. After four trips to the parole board, Garrido was freed in August 1988. That would be three years before he allegedly kidnapped Jaycee Dugard.

You do the maths.

Phillip Garrido served about 20% of his federal sentence. Had he done just one third of his time, he wouldn’t have been out to snatch this young girl. And all this doesn’t begin to explain how Garrido managed to keep Dugard and their two children together so well hidden. Two years after the abduction, he was jailed on a parole violation. Aside from that, the guy was a convicted sex offender. Yet it doesn’t appear that parole officials or anyone else in California found anything wrong with Phillip Dugard. Not even when a 911 call brought police to his home in 2006. That call alleged that children were living in tents behind his house.

So what do we have here? Is it that there isn’t enough money spent on supervising parolees? Is it that law enforcement didn’t dig deep enough to find the tents housing Jaycee Dugard and her kids on Phillip Garrido’s property?

The question must also be asked, what kind of monster does this to an innocent child of 11? And how do you explain to two children, ages 11 and 15, the horror that brought them into this world?

So many questions. So few answers. Do you have any?

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Can Legalizing Weed Save Cali?

Well, no, it can’t.

A new estimate says legalizing marijuana would net the Golden State around $1.4 billion dollars. Their current budget gap is something like $26 billion. But it would, no doubt, make a dent. That’s why there’s a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate weed sales that’s been introduced in the California Assembly. Tax officials bas their estimate on a $50 dollar per ounce fee, as well as revenue from sales taxes.

Call me old fashioned, but I have a problem with the idea of legalizing something to make money from it. Sort of brings up the question why was it illegal for so long? It smacks of political and financial expediency. That said, it does make sense. I know there are some old stoners in California looking at that $50 dollar an ounce fee and thinking “I can remember when an ounce cost less than that”! Yet the logic of the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano rings true. With California’s legislature unable (as of Thursday) to reach a budget agreement, with furloughs, state IOUs, and cutbacks the order of the day, can the state really afford not to take a look at this potential revenue source?

Some facts are in order. California is the nation’s largest marijuana producing state. Last year, law enforcement seized 5.3 million plants. At the same time, residents consumed an estimated 500 tons of weed, implying that the law can only interdict so much. So the question really becomes, can the state afford to ignore what’s going on under their nose?

Of course, medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996. There’s also a move afoot to tax that as well, especially now that the Justice Dept. under Attorney General Eric Holder has taken a more rational position on federal raids on dispensaries. Other states will be keeping a close eye on what California does. Whether by legislation or referendum, Cali is a bellwether state. As it goes, so goes the rest of America, or so the thinking goes.

It’s just interesting how financial necessity becomes the mother of invention. Would efforts at legalization be taken so seriously if California’s economy was steaming along? Will the black market dry up completely if marijuana is legal? Can the state’s tax collection system adapt itself to properly monitor sales and collect revenue?

All these are hypothetical questions that in a way put the cart before the horse. Let’s see what happens when the Assembly takes up Tom Ammiano’s bill. Legalization opponents, especially those in law enforcement, won’t simply go away. After all, weed seizure is big business to them.

What do you think? Will California bite the bullet and legalize marijuana? Should they?

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